Cuba, Dissent, U.S. Sponsors & the Ladies in White
Originally spotted at the Huffington Post.
People, in general, have to be entitled to protest, disagree, and feel at liberty to complain. Whether these individuals, with something to complain about, wear one particular form of garb or another, and whether they carry daisies, signs, or gladiolas is of no difference. This said, it is my humble opinion that the self proclaimed Ladies in White, of the Cuban counter revolution, should be allowed a space where they may complain about whatever and whomever they deem appropriate. Just as long as they, and the people they encounter along the way abide by rules of civility.
Protests have been common place for ages. All over the world, groups of people and organizations go through a standard process before staging any kind of march, protest or manifestation. Usually, the process includes applying for permits or licenses by which city or town governments, or the police, issue authorization. After authorization, these groups or individuals are allotted a date, a timetable, and a space where in they may do all the protesting they desire.
In the early 1990s I recall ultra right wing Cuban Americans from the New Jersey area protesting my father’s presence in New York City, Cuba’s role at the Security Council in the UN, and our nation’s rational view (pretty much unique in those days), regarding President Bush Sr.’s invasion of Kuwait. Those protestors organized themselves and marched from one end of Lexington Avenue, starting a little below 38th street, all the way up towards East Harlem. They stopped short of reaching the upper East Side because it is a known fact in NYC that the Cuban American community of NJ takes the Dominican community of Washington Heights, the Boricuas of Spanish Harlem, and the African Americans of Harlem very seriously. Those social groups would always organize a counter march in favor of the Cubans.
Cuba has more than enough to protest about and more than enough to get out in the media. The husbands of these Ladies in White have been accused of being sponsored by a foreign government by using the funds allotted to Cubans on the island. These funds are intended to create a “social opposition” within the so called “independent civil society,” and to “identify the adequate means in order to put a quick end to the Cuban regime and organize the transition.”
Funds during the Bush Jr. administration rose from 3.5 million yearly to 20 million and continue at that level today. These ladies, whose husbands have been sentenced to prison terms for being accused of acting on behalf of the interests of a foreign government logically have as much right as the next person to be annoyed. They will of course want to make their feelings known, even when members of their families were caught red handed. They have the same right to protest as the Cuban government does. They have the right to take punitive action against nationals working at the bequest of the United States- which coincidentally is gravely punished and prohibited by the US itself.
So, let the protests begin. Let the Cuban government allow for them to take place, by granting these ladies a permit to do so. Of course, with proper police security to warn off any onlookers who deem it appropriate to heckle, push, shove, or whatever aggressive lime lighting attitude may play about.
I then would request that the foreign press, Amnesty International, and the rest of the political and non political organizations out there, cover the much less publicized protests of the thousands of Cubans on the island who want an end to 50 years of economic, political, cultural and scientific punishment. Or end the acts of sabotage and terrorism that the island and all of the people outside of the island have been subject to for the past 50 years. This is including but not exclusive to acts such as the murder of Carlos Muñíz Varela, a 26 year old Cuban American shot and killed in San Juan Puerto Rico. Or multiple bombings in the city of Miami, against the places of work of individual’s hoping to reconcile with the government on the island. Or acts of sabotage, like the downing of a Cuban civilian aircraft with 73 passengers on board.
More to the point, these Ladies in White protest their husband’s incarceration and they want them home. There is a lesser known group of ladies in Cuba, not because they have less reason or passion, but simply because they get less coverage and demand less attention.
This other group of ladies is smaller in size and they too have reason to protest. They do not wear white and they do not carry flowers. They carry the conviction of their truths and the truths of their husbands. More importantly, the truth of an entire nation – including that of the infamous Ladies in White.
These are the wives, mothers, and daughters of the Cuban Five. Five men imprisoned for the past decade in the United States for fighting the same acts of hatred which the Cuban nation has been dealing with for the past 50 years. They did not act on behalf of a foreign government. They were not in the United States to topple the government there, or “take steps directed at training, developing and strengthening of the opposition and civil society.” They were there to help protect both the people of Cuba and the people in the US who believe that a better reality across the straights is possible.